We highly recommend that you put some kind of finish on your log gazebo. Properly finished and maintained, Western Red Cedar ages gracefully and endures for many years. Finishing is an ongoing process that must be reapplied every few years depending on the quality of the stain and the amount of weathering the gazebo receives. The basic reason for staining cedar is to extend the life of the structure and to compliment your home.
While the cedar's natural oils maintain moisture and repel wood-boring insects, water spots and spills can quickly ruin the look of the wood. A clear finish will bring out a bit of red tinge found int he beauty of the grain. Cedar is also a dimensionally stable wood that lies flat and stays straight, it doesn't warp over time. Unprotected wood creates ripe conditions for the growth of mildew and mold. Below is a list of stain explanations and options. Please consult with a paint expert at your local store to be sure you get the look you desire.
Exterior Stain & Deck Stain
Oil based wood stain is best used as an underlying coat for a finish, to enhance the grain of the wood. This will allow you to closely match colors of similar existing pieces of furniture. The outside of the wood is slightly harden by the stain and will add years of life to the furniture. As the stains penetrate the wood, there is no peeling or blistering as commonly seen in paints. A stained finish can often give cedar a natural look, while giving you the color your desire. A stain is the easiest to apply and easy to re-apply. Most stains will last 4-5 years, but often need to be freshened up every 2-3 years for appearances. Stain is "breathable" and will not trap the moisture, therefore - no blistering, no peeling.
- Clear stain offers the least UV protection but optimum view of the natural wood grain.
- Semi-transparent stain provide rich, pigmented color that allows grain to show through with very good durability.
- Tints or Toners provide a light color that highlights wood grain and provides good durability.
This is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional stains. While it is water based for easy cleanup, it does penetrate the wood, while depositing a silicone material on the surface. The surface of the silicone finish tends to be shiny and it does last longer than traditional stains. Most of the products on the market have a mildew inhibitor.
This gives an interesting often-overlooked option to paint. Opaque stains can be colored matched like paint, but doesn’t chip or peel as can happen with paint over time. The disadvantage is that the wood exterior isn’t as hard as it would be covered with paint. Most opaque stains incorporate pigmented urethane tung oil - which allows them to last 5-7 years.
Latex stains are available in a wide range of colors and allow easy cleanup with water. Latex stains do not penetrate the wood surface and tend to perform like thin paints. They do however have some porosity, which allows limited moisture movement with the wood underneath, providing more stability between the stain and the substrate. The shorter service life of these non-penetrating finishes can be improved with the use of a stain resistant primer.
A great looling finish is semi-gloss polyurethane with UV light protection. The polyurethane will place a very hard finish over the wood. Easily resists water, chemicals and grease. Won't crack, peel or stain; and covers the grain well. A UV stabilizer is incorporated to protect it from breaking down in sunlight and to protect any underlying stains from fading. The cedar will slightly darken, but will give the wood a very rustic, yet very traditional look. The warmth of the red tinge really comes out nicely. However, this finish needs patience to apply, two coats are recommended, and to refinish will require sanding.
Tung Oil based Marine Varnish
A better application for cedar that will be exposed to a lot of liquid water or for direct sun applications. Marine finishes have more UV inhibitors and can better stand direct sun than most spar varnishes. This finish will be double to cost of most other finishes. In a liquid environment, expect the varnish to last 2-3 years.
Oil based paint is very durable, as it adheres to the wood better. This will cover the grain and allow you to put any color onto the wood. Latex paint is easier to cleanup, but not as durable as oil based paint. On raw wood a primer is necessary for paint. Two coats of paint, with a oil based primer, can last up to 10 years before the cedar needs to be repainted.
Interior finishes: Completely avoid any finish labeled for interior applications.
MOISTURE & MILDEW Warning: When selecting and applying a finish for use on surfaces exposed to adverse moisture conditions, use a finish with a fungicidal additive, which will eliminate or reduce discoloration caused by mildew growth. Nothing looks worse than a beautiful finish with black splotches.